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New Minot terminal offers latest in security, amenities

The new $49 million airport terminal is seen Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Minot, N.D. Is is three times the size of the former terminal.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MINOT, N.D. -- Minot’s new airport terminal could be called the most modern and secure in America.

“At least until the next one opens,” said interim Minot International Airport manager Ann Thorvick with a laugh.

However, what the new facility does offer to the city of about 50,000 residents and the surrounding area -- including North Dakota’s oilfields -- is the latest in technology to provide a safe and secure terminal and a much more comfortable and welcoming atmosphere with a bucketload of new amenities.

“It’s really a breath of fresh air,” Thorvick said, compared to the old facility, which is still standing until bids are opened soon for its demolition.

The lobby of the new $49 million airport terminal is seen Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Minot, N.D. Residents and dignitaries will all get a closer look at the facility Friday as the airport holds a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house -- about two months after the doors opened.

The state’s congressional delegation is attending as it helped to secure federal funding to aid in the construction of the $49.8 million terminal.  State and local funds were also used in financing the city-owned and operated 1,500-acre airport -- which has been undergoing a five-year improvement project estimated at about $94 million.

Since opening March 2, Mayor Chuck Barney -- a frequent user of the facility as he has family on the East Coast and in California -- said the terminal has been ‘incredibly well received.”

The reasons, he said, are that from a traveler’s perspective it has a lot of the “extras” not often seen in other airports to enhance their experience and improve safety..

Thorvick said some of those new terminal features are:

  •  Cell phone plug-ins in 400 seats
  •  A new Wi-Fi network
  •  A 600 square-foot children’s play area
  •  Two Transportation Safety Administration lines instead of one and space for another
  •  A private screening room for enhanced security checks
  •  A secure exit lane to the baggage claim and expanded cameras for monitoring.

“It’s security and safety first,” Thorvick said about how new airports are designed in the post-9/11 era.

She wouldn’t say how many new security cameras were added.

 The baggage area of the new $49 million airport terminal leads west from the main entrance Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Minot, N.D

Beyond that, other features for travelers -- totalling about 182,800 passengers last year -- are a new airside and landside restaurant and bar offered upstairs and downstairs and 18 new flight arrival and departure digital boards compared to only one in the old terminal.

Thorvick is an Indiana resident who served as a consultant on the terminal project and was then asked to serve as interim director until a new leader is selected from among three finalists currently being interviewed.

Although boardings are down because of the oil downturn in western North Dakota -- boardings peaked in 2012 at about 224,000 -- Barney said “we are well positioned when the oil industry comes back” to handle more fliers.

Even though numbers were down last year, they are still way up from just six years ago when there were only about 70,000 people boarding the flights in Minot.

Kyle Wanner, the director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, said the project ”will serve the current and future needs of that area for years to come.”

“For some visitors, it’s the first building they see when they enter the community,” Wanner said about airport terminals.

North Dakota’s two U.S. senators provided statements, too, about the benefits of the improved terminal.

“The new … terminal serves as a fitting gateway to the Magic City, and with new and expanded services in the terminal, air travel will be more efficient and convenient for the community and its visitors,” said U.S. Sen. John Hoeven. He said they worked hard to secure federal funding “because  this is the kind of infrastructure that will help us to grow our economy and also ensure that we maintain the high quality of life we expect in North Dakota.”

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp added, “North Dakotans depend on a strong transportation infrastructure to keep their businesses strong and carry them safely home. That’s why the opening of this new terminal in Minot is such an encouraging step forward. It’s my hope that Friday’s success in Minot paves the way for future transportation projects across the state so we can keep growing our local economies for years to come.”

Other N.D. airport projects in the works

  • Williston: Planning an airport relocation and expansion.
  • Bismarck: Major runway rehabilitation
  • Dickinson: Taxiway and runway improvements
  • Watford City: Runway extension

Source: North Dakota Aeronautics Commission